Reform Scotland News: 25 August 2011


All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.


In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.



MP for Labour leader: Following Tom Harris’ decision to enter the contest to become the Scottish Labour leader, Douglas Alexander has backed the idea of an MP taking on the role, denouncing those calling for a separate Scottish party as “deluded”. (Herald page 6, John MacLeod in the Mail, Times page 15, P&J page 11, Courier page 6, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)


Jackie Smith:  Former Labour Home Secretary Jackie Smith has defended using prisoners on day-release to paint her home as “they didn’t have anything else on”.  The inmates from HMP Hewell were taking part in a scheme which allows them to work on projects which help the community.  Ms Smith, who is no longer an MP, said that on the day in question they had no other work on and her husband made a donation to the charity which runs the scheme. (Scotsman page 14, Sun page 4, Mail page 21, Times page 17, Guardian page 10, P&J page 8, Telegraph page 9)


Scottish public finances: A report by Audit Scotland due to be published today is expected to want that Scotland is facing a “worse-case scenario” with regard to public finances.  The commitment to no compulsory redundancies in central government and the health service are among the factors Audit Scotland warn will leave some public bodies struggling to balance the books. (Scotsman page 17, Sun page 2, Herald page 5, Mail page 1)


Andy Coulson: Andy Coulson may have broken House of Commons rules by failing to declare payments and benefits from News International while holding a parliamentary pass sponsored by David Cameron. (Guardian page 1, Telegraph page 12)


Single fire service: The Fire Brigades Union and the Association of Chief Fire Officers in Scotland have reportedly warned ministers that plans to create a single Scottish fire service along with plans for efficiency savings of up to £59m a year will have a huge impact on public safety.  Alex Salmond is expected to announce the changes on 7 September.  (Scotsman page 1 , Times page 15)


100 days in power: Tom Peterkin and John Curtice in the Scotsman comment on the SNP’s first 100 days in office since May’s election.


Clegg visit to Scotland: Nick Clegg is reportedly visiting Scotland with “great humility” in an attempt to re-connect with Lib Dem activists following a “tough year” for the party. (Scotsman page 14, Tom Peterkin in the Scotsman, Sun page 2, Herald page 6)


Nick Clegg has also said that he would like to see the Lockerbie bomber back behind bars. (Herald page 1, P&J page 5, Telegraph page 11)



Swiss tax: George Osborne has reached a deal with Switzerland which allows UK residents with funds in Swiss bank accounts to be taxed in an attempt to crackdown on tax avoidance. (Herald page 3, Times page 13, FT page 1, Guardian page 34)


Uncollected tax: The UK government failed to collect £6billion in tax last year according to a study by the Taxpayers’ Alliance. (Record page 2, Mail page 28, Express page 2, Telegraph page 16)


Sir Fred Goodwin: A book written by two Conservative MPs and due to be published next month is expected to criticise Sir Fred and detail a number of incidents which occurred at RBS including claims that he tried to prevent the bank’s chief economist appearing before MPs. (Herald page 3, Mail page 5)


Youth jobless: Gordon Brown has warned that unless international leaders stem the economic down turn there could be a worldwide epidemic of youth unemployment for a decade. (Herald page 6)



Complaints: Almost half of all complaints made to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Jim Martin regarding health services were upheld last year.  Jim Martin criticised the health organisations for failing to handle complaints properly. (Herald page 5)


Forth Valley Royal:  The final cost for the new Forth Valley Royal hospital near Falkirk is estimated to be more than £1b, despite costing £300m to build, due to the PFI scheme used. (Mail page 4)



University funding: The NUS has urged the Scottish Government to use profits from fees charged to students from elsewhere within the UK to widen access.  The NUS pointed out that while universities in England have to provide bursaries as a condition of charging higher fees, Scottish institutions do not.  (Herald page 4)


Jobless teachers: Michael Kelly in the Scotsman criticises the education secretary for the level of unemployment amongst teachers.



Trams: The cost of axing Edinburgh’s trams project was reportedly overestimated by officials.  The cost of axing the scheme has now been reduced from £750m to £651m.  The council is due to meet today to decide the fate of the project.  Former Chancellor Alistair Darling has criticised plans to borrow £231m to extend the proposed tram route from Haymarket to St Andrew Square. (Herald page 1, Sun page 2, Times page 15)


Local Government

Highland development: Cawdor Maintenance Trust has unveiled a £70m masterplan for a housing and leisure developments on the Western edge of Nairn.  (P&J page 1)